World Bulletin / News Desk
Fifty four people trying to reach Italy from Libya died of thirst after a 15-day voyage in which their rubber boat gradually deflated, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday, citing the sole survivor.
It said the man, an Eritrean national, was rescued by Tunisian coastguards in a state of advanced dehydration clinging to the remains of the boat after being spotted by fishermen the previous night, the agency said.
The man said he left Libya towards the end of June as part of a 55-strong group, half of whom came from Eritrea.
"He told us that there were immediately problems on the boat, that unfortunately they weren't even allowed to take a bottle of water and so once they got lost and the voyage went on, people started to feel unwell and die because of the lack of water," U.N. spokeswoman Laura Boldrini told SkyTG24 television.
"How is it possible that in a sea like the Mediterranean which is full of fishing boats, cargo ships, naval ships, these people were just left to their fate like that," she said.
The survivor, who was taken to a hospital in Zarzis in southeastern Tunisia, told UNHCR officials the craft nearly reached the coast of Italy but was driven back by strong winds and began to deflate after a few days.
As their desperation grew, many drank sea water, which worsened their thirst, he told the officials.
The incident is the latest in a long series of disasters which have killed thousands of migrants attempting to reach southern Europe from North Africa in small, unstable and frequently overcrowded boats.
According to the UNHCR, around 170 people have died this year trying to reach Europe from Libya. Around 1,300 have reached Italy by sea since the beginning of 2012 and another 1,000 people have reached Malta.
Elections are expected to be held in 83 more municipalities, including the capital Tripoli, later. Dates, however, has not yet been set for the vote.
The survey showed 47 percent saw a risk to national independence - the highest level in the poll's history dating back to 1991 - as a result of the Ukraine crisis.
Captain Dopani Firmin, the 'anti-balaka' Christian militia chief in Boda, said "it's our right to kill Muslims."
Last week U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon renewed his appeals for sustained human rights monitoring in Western Sahara and warned against unfair exploitation of the region's natural resources.
Critics of Putin say that Kremlin-controlled Russian media have fuelled unjustified fear of the new Kiev leadership in the east of Ukraine, where ousted president Viktor Yanukovich had his power base.
Al-Qaeda group is active in several Yemeni provinces, staging sporadic attacks on army and police targets.
After almost two months without a sign of wreckage, the current underwater search has been narrowed to a small area around the location in which one of four acoustic signals believed to be from the plane's black box recorders was detected.
Relations between Russia and the NATO military alliance are at their worst since the Cold War following Russia's seizure of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.
Egypt's Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip has only been open for 12 days so far this year.
The magnitude 7.5 quake was centered in the western state of Guerrero, north of the beach resort of Acapulco
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesperson said the members of its network have agreed not to attack public places in Pakistan as ceasefire ends.
Pakistan police launch major search operation after pair snatched by armed assailants.
Newly-appointed Prime Minister Roger Kolo promised to work on job creation and the revitalization of the economy.
Clashes first erupted Monday between former seleka rebels and anti-balaka militiamen in Grimari.
At around 10pm Monday night, rebels believed to belong to Boko Haram stormed the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, located on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest.
Several reconciliation initiatives have been presented by Egyptian political figures and foreign diplomats since Mohamed Morsi – the country's first freely elected president – was ousted by the army last July on the back of protests against his presidency.